Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jefferson Davis - Delusional - Beauregard's View - April 1865

General Beauregard, in his conference with the President, also told him that, from Macon, General Cobb reported that the enemy's cavalry had penetrated North Alabama, from the Tennessee River, threatening Tuscaloosa, Selma, and Montgomery; while another force of cavalry, supported by infantry and artillery, was advancing, through North Georgia, on Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon, where he, General Cobb, had but few troops, principally local and State reserves, to oppose to them.

General Beauregard also said to Mr. Davis that the picture he presented to him was most gloomy, but that he thought it his duty to attempt no concealment of the truth, so that the President might have a clear knowledge of the situation, and be prepared for the inevitable. President Davis lent an attentive ear to the account thus given of the hopeless condition of the Confederacy, but appeared, nevertheless, undismayed. He said that the struggle could still be carried on to a successful issue, by bringing out all our latent resources; that if the worst came to the worst, we might, by crossing the Mississippi River, with such troops as we could retreat with, unite with Kirby Smith's army, which he estimated at some sixty thousand men, and prolong the war indefinitely. General Beauregard did not expect, and was amazed at, this evidence of visionary hope on the part of the President. He admired his confidence, but inwardly condemned what to him seemed to be a total want of judgment and a misconception of the military resources of the country.

The President on that day (11th April), after his interview with General Beauregard, sent telegrams to General Johnston, by way of Raleigh... and one to Governor Vance, also at Raleigh. They fully indicate the state of Mr. Davis's mind at the time, and need no commentary:

"Greensboro", N. C, April Uth, 1865. "Governor Z. B. Vance, Raleigh, N. C.:"I have no official report, but scouts, said to be reliable, and whose statements were circumstantial and corroborative, represent the disaster as extreme."I have not heard from General Lee since the 6th instant, and have little or no hope from his army as an organized body. I expected to visit you at Raleigh, but am accidentally prevented from executing that design, and would be very glad to see you here, if you can come at once, or to meet you elsewhere in North Carolina at a future time. We must redouble our efforts to meet present disaster. An army holding its position with determination to fight on, and manifest ability to maintain the struggle, will attract all the scattered soldiers and daily rapidly gather strength."Moral influence is wanting, and I am sure you can do much now to revive the spirit and hope of the people. Jeffn. Davis."

*From the Military Operations of P.T. Beauregard Volume II

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